A Carolina wren yells from the balustrade while his mate rummages around inside the old hornets’ nest. The sky slowly turns white.
Something has been ripping into the old hornet’s nest on the porch ceiling: pieces of its gray paper litter the fresh snow. A wren flies in.
Foggy at dawn. When I open the door, a Carolina wren zips out of the old hornets’ nest under the porch roof and disappears into the lilac.
The yard is crisscrossed by fresh tracks of animals. A chickadee lands in a fretwork spandrel and peers intently at the old hornets’ nest.
There’s a new hole in the hornets’ nest—flying squirrel? The scarlet oak we transplanted from the woods years ago is starting to color up.
The goldenrod is all brown, but each breeze sprinkles it with yellow from the woods. The last hornet returns to her ghost town of a nest.
Cloudy and cold. Gusts of wind try on bespoke garments of yellow leaves. The hornets are still flying, tough as the nails in their abdomens.
Bright morning after a cold night. A hornet drops from her nest, hitting the porch floor with an audible tick, then flies unsteadily away.
The front-porch hornets have dwindled; the new queens must’ve pupated and gone. The remaining workers soldier on like unRaptured Christians.
I cede the porch to the hornets and sit under the portico. The view: a garden full of weeds, a least flycatcher landing briefly on an aster.